are you a human being or a human working?

posted April 19, 2016

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This great graphic and the following analysis is taken from Dave Pratt a really on-point blog post over at the Ranching for Profit blog about having boundaries between your home life and work life. We think it’ll resonate with a lot of farmers and farm workers out there. Read the whole post!

If you scored more than 70, congratulations! You probably have a healthy work/life balance. If you scored 50 to 70, you’ve got room for improvement and may want to think about something you can do in one or two areas to improve your work/life balance. If you scored less than 50, you might be a human doing rather than a human being. Your work and your life might improve if you re-evaluate your priorities.



EPA (finally) updates (antediluvian) standards to protect farm workers from pesticides

posted October 4, 2015

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Seeing as the the USDA’s worker-training about pesticide safety still (very necessarily) includes the above image and instructions, we couldn’t welcome these development more.

The new revisions to EPA standards “give farmworkers health protections under the law similar to those already afforded to workers in other industries.” You can read the full list of revisions on the EPA fact sheet, some highlights include:

  • children under 18 are no longer allowed to handle pesticides
  • mandatory yearly training for farm workers about pesticides (as opposed to every five years)
  • equirement to provide more than one way for farmworkers and their representatives to gain access to pesticide application information and safety data sheets – centrally-posted, or by requesting records
  • mandatory record-keeping of pesticide application

Great! But if news of the revisions leaves you feeling… I don’t know… a little angry about what they imply about conditions for workers on industrial farms, The United Farmworkers have a number of ongoing actions and campaigns to improve health, life, immigration, and economic conditions for workers on American farms.

Their reaction to the updated standards? “Is it ever too late to do the right thing? It’s been a long time coming, but it has come today.”


H2 worker

posted July 15, 2014

An important film on farm worker exploitation, released in 1990.

H2 Worker h2 worker
Directed by Stephanie Black, 1990

Winner of the Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival, H-2 WORKER reveals the systematic exploitation of Caribbean laborers by the Florida sugar industry from World War II through the 1990s. Each year more than 10,000 foreign workers were granted temporary guest worker (“H-2″) visas to spend six brutal months cutting sugar cane near Lake Okeechobee. They were housed in overcrowded barracks, denied adequate treatment for frequent on-the-job injuries, and paid less than minimum wage. Faced with deportation and soaring unemployment in their home countries, workers had little recourse but to silently accept these humiliating conditions.

Clandestinely filmed in the cane fields and around the workers’ barracks, H-2 WORKER exposes this travesty of justice, which remained a well-kept secret for decades.

Originally released in 1990, today H-2 WORKER provides an invaluable resource to understanding current debate over guest worker provisions of immigration legislation. While Florida’s sugar cane cutters have been replaced by mechanical harvesters, guest worker programs have expanded in agriculture, hotel, restaurant, forestry, and other industries. H-2 WORKER illuminates how our foreign worker program continues to benefit employers at the expense of vulnerable, underpaid workers.


in solidarity with workers

posted April 26, 2014

Our Farm Worker Community needs your help today. As many of you know, Familias Unidas por la Justicia has been in a labor dispute with Sakuma Bros. Farms in Skagit County.  Familias Unidas por la Justicia want a just wage, fair treatment, and decent housing and have been trying to negotiate with the farm since last summer. Many of the Farm Workers have been working at Sakuma Bros. Farms for many years and have helped it become one of the most recognizable names in agriculture within the region. However the workers that have helped the Sakuma Farm throughout the years are now in danger of losing their livelihood because as of Monday April 14, 2014 Sakuma Bros. Farm has applied to bring in over 400 workers under the controversial H-2A program. Under H-2A the farm can displace the families that are already here and have been working at the farm with contracted workers from outside of the US.
We are asking supporters to email Charlene Giles from the Dept. of Labor in Chicago, who plays a critical role in determining the status of the H-2A application that Sakuma applied for and also email Alberto Isiordia from Employment Security Department in Olympia, Washington who also oversees the H-2A process. We want workers to be treated with dignity considering all the contributions they make to our local economy and food system and don’t want the further exploitation for our brothers and sisters with the systemic implementation of a quasi-slave labor force.
We are recommending that the following action be taken: Reject the H-2A application that was submitted by Sakuma Bros. because:
1.      Over 450 workers and families that have been at the farm for years have already committed in returning to work this season
2.      The majority of the 450 workers are already here in the area
3.      Workers that are here locally should be able to work at the farm without fear of reprisals
Please support Familas Unidas por la Justicia.
Charlene Giles
Dept. of Labor
Alberto Isiordia
Employment Security Dept. of WA
aisiordia@esd.wa.gov